Thursday, May 31, 2007

Healthier French Fries

If The Idea of Healthy Doesn't Get You- The Color Will!

The combination of russet potatoes and sweet potatoes really works. Roasting white potatoes brings out the starchy flavor and the texture is crispy. When the sweet potatoes are roasted they get caramelized from the sugars cooking... And I love that!
I also love the fact that sweet potatoes are one the best foods you could eat. They are a super health food. Check out the nutrition facts at the World's Healthiest Foods website.

Roasted Sweet and White Potato Steak Fries

3 sweet potatoes, cut into about 1 by 5-inch pieces
3 russet potatoes, cut into about 1 by 5-inch pieces
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary
2 teaspoons sea salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Place the potatos on a foil-lined baking sheet and toss with the olive oil. Bake until golden brown, about 45 minutes.

It's that easy!

Friday, May 25, 2007

This Was Yummy...


It wasn't until just recently that I decided that I like avocados. I don't think that I had ever tried them before because they looked so scary from the outside. The skin is bumpy and odd looking.

I guess it's true that you shouldn't judge a book by it's cover because when you cut open an avocado it's like you struck gold. The flesh is a beautiful gradiation of green that goes from dark to light. The texture is soft and velvety and the flavor is subtle but rich at the same time.

You could even say it's sort of like butter. But unlike butter it is not high in saturated fat, but high in monounsaturated fat which is really good for you. As a matter of fact, avocados are really good for you. For great facts and nutrition info check out the World's Healthiest Foods website. So now that you know how good they are for you - eat up (in moderation, of course!)

Avocado Pasta Salad

1 cup orzo
3 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon white wine vinegar
salt & pepper
1 ripe avocado, peeled, seeded and cut in chunks
1/2 cup cherry tomatoes, halved or roasted red peppers, cut in strips
1 can artichoke hearts, drained, rinsed and quartered
1/4 cup black & green olives, halved lengthwise
1 sprig fresh thyme, leaves picked and chopped
1 tablespoon fresh basil
1 tablespoon fresh parsley, chopped
fresh lemon juice from half a lemon

Cook orzo according to package directions, drain and add a little olive oil to prevent sticking. Once pasta is cool, mix all ingredients together. Serve at room temperature with crostini or chill and serve cold if desired.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Something Different- and Sugar Free!

A Twist on the Old Stand By...

I love Grapenut Pudding, especially my Moms. She makes it all the time, the traditional way and with raisins. But being the adventurous type that I am, I decided to mix things up a bit and went a little crazy with it. I decided to make it sugar-free (using Splenda), low-fat and gave it an orange essence. It was actually pretty good, in a non-traditional sort of way.

First off let me say I am not a proponent of Splenda or any other sugar substitute. I really don't like using any artificial sweeteners (or artificial ingredients of any kind) in my cooking. But my mom was concerned at one point that she may not be able to have sugar in her diet and it got me thinking about sweet alternatives to some of her favorite recipes. So I gave it a try. It was pretty good and I didn't detect that "fake" sugar after taste that I detest.

All in all, if you don't have to limit your sugar intake, I wouldn't recommend using Splenda. Not because it tasted bad, but just because it isn't natural and the long term effects of these chemicals in our bodies (in my opinion and from what I have read) could be detrimental to our health. Using it once in a while, however, shouldn't hurt. So give it a try if you already have a box in the house.

Sugar-Free Orange Grapenut Pudding
(Double Recipe)

3 whole eggs and 2 egg whites (beaten)
4 cups of Simply Smart Fat-Free Milk*
1 cup Grapenuts
2/3 cups Splenda
1 tablespoon vanilla
1 cup raisins
Zest from one orange (optional)
Sprinkle of nutmeg

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Mix first six ingredients in a oven safe bowl or casserole. Sprinkle with nutmeg and let sit for 5 to 10 minutes. Bake for about one hour or until middle is set.
Serve warm or chilled with cream if desired.

*I'm not sure if regular skim milk would work as well. The fat-free Simply-Smart or Over the Moon brands work well because they are ultra-pasteurized and they have a creamier texture and taste. Plus, besides that fact that it's fat-free, it is better for you because it also contains 25% more protein than whole milk, 20% more calcium than whole milk, and is lower in cholesterol.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Bok Choy, I wish I liked it.

I tried to like it...

I saw this recipe on Healthy Appetite with Ellie Krieger. It looked really good and the health benefits of bok choy, including lots of calcium, enticed me to try it. I'm not sure if I didn't like the recipe or if I just don't like bok choy. I'd like to give it another chance, so if you have any really good recipes let me know.

Sesame Stir-Fried Chinese Greens

Copyright, 2006, Ellie Krieger, All rights reserved

2 teaspoons canola oil
2 pounds baby bok choy
2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil (I didn't have any so I omitted it)
1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds

In a wok or large frying pan heat the oil over high heat until very hot. Add the bok choy and stir-fry until they begin to soften slightly, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the soy sauce, vinegar and sesame oil and cook until just done, 1 to 2 minutes longer. Sprinkle with sesame seeds and serve.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Very Crabby...

If You Like Strong Crab Flavor, These Babies Are For You!

I was in a local catering/prepared food restaurant recently and noticed their Crab Stuffed Portabella Mushrooms. They were piled high and looked so delicious. I didn't have the guts to ask for the recipe, so I looked online and found a few that sounded pretty good.

The one I settled on was by the Food Network's Bobby Flay. I was never a huge fan of his grilling show, (because I almost never grill), but some of his non-grill recipes have caught my eye lately.

This recipe is actually one he got from a restaurant in Baltimore called Da Mimmo. (It figures I liked this one, since it is from an Italian restaurant). I did change a few things and only made 1/2 the recipe to serve two. Although I did like the dish, if I made it again I would probably add more crackers and mayonnaise to loosen up the crab taste and texture. And by doing this the same amount of crab could serve upto four.

Portobellos Stuffed with Crab Meat:
Funghi Portobello Farci con Carne di Granchi

Recipe courtesy Da Mimmo Restaurant by Bobby Flay

1 pound jumbo lump crabmeat, picked over for cartilage, I used an 8 ounce container of Crabmeat
1 egg, I beat up one egg and used only half
1 tablespoon mayonnaise, I used 1 1/2 teaspoons
1 teaspoon mustard, I used 1/2 teaspoon
12 saltine crackers,
I used 6 Ritz Crackers
1 teaspoon crab boil seasoning,
I used 1/2 teaspoon poultry seasoning and 1/2 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon Worchestershire sauce,
I used 1/2 teaspoon
4 large portobello mushrooms, de-stemmed,
I used two
1 teaspoon butter, I used 1/2 teaspoon
Sprinkle paprika
Lemon slices, sliced tomatoes, or sliced cucumbers, for garnish
. (I didn't bother with the garnish). Place the crab into a medium bowl. In a separate bowl, combine egg, mayonnaise, mustard, crackers, crab boil seasoning, and Worcestershire sauce. Mix well. Gently fold mixture into the crab.

Place crab mixture equally on top of each portobello mushroom. Top each center of the stuffing with a 1/4 teaspoon of butter. Refrigerate for 2 hours.

Preheat oven to 380 degrees F. Bake for 15 minutes, then place under the broiler for 2 minutes. Sprinkle with paprika. Serve with your favorite garnish, perhaps sliced lemon, tomato or cucumber.

Leftover Ricotta? Never.

The Perfect Use For That Leftover Ricotta You Didn't Use In The Lasagna

Even if I don't use an entire container of ricotta cheese in my baked pasta dishes, I never have leftover cheese; and neither will you once you try this cheesecake!

I make two mini cheesecakes, because I have two mini spring pans and they are easy to store. I put one each in a glad lock plastic container. They fit perfectly and the topping will not get messed up with plastic wrap. (That is of course if they make it to the container!)

You don't have to feel too guilty with this recipe, since I use part skim ricotta, non-hydrogenated spread for the graham crust and I reduced the sugar as well. And in my opinion you'd never know!

Mini Ricotta Cheesecakes

6 graham crackers, crushed into crumbs
1/4 cup sugar, plus 4 teaspoons for graham cracker crust (If you like a sweeter cake add another 1/4 cup of sugar to the cheese mixture)
2 tablespoons butter or non-hydrogenated spread
1 cup part-skim ricotta cheese
1 egg
1/2 tsp. almond extract
1/8 - 1/4 cup sliced almonds, toasted in a dry pan
1/4 cup seedless raspberry jam

Heat oven to 375°F.
For the crust, mix the graham crumbs with the butter and 4 teaspoons of sugar. Spray the mini spring pans with nonstick cooking spray. Press the graham mixture into the bottom of the pans . Set aside.

In small bowl, combine 1/4 cup sugar, cheese, egg and almond extract; beat at high speed for 1 minute. Pour the ricotta mixture into the prepared pans.

Bake for about 25-27 minutes, or until firm in the center.

Melt seedless raspberry jam in microwave until easy to stir and spread over the tops of the cheesecakes. Sprinkle with toasted almond slices and enjoy!

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Italian Tuna Stuffed Pepper

Low Carb Without Even Trying!

This is a really easy dish you can make for one or two people. It would be great for anyone who is dieting or just trying to eat a little bit healthier.

You can adjust the seasonings and ingredients to your taste. It's not so much a recipe as it is an assembly of ingredients. In fact, you may also choose not to cook the pepper, as I did. I prefer it cooked, but it would probably be just as good raw.

Italian Tuna Stuffed Pepper

2 red bell peppers, tops, stems and ribs removed
1 can Italian tuna packed in olive oil, reserve oil
1 small/medium shallot, sliced thin or 1/2 small red onion
10 Black olives, sliced in half lengthwise
10 Manzanilla olives, sliced in half lengthwise
1/2 cup cannellini beans
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice, about 1/2 lemon
2 tablespoons fresh Italian parsley, chopped
Red wine vinegar
salt & pepper

To cook peppers, place in a steamer top side down and cook for 10 minutes or longer for a softer texture. If desired, the peppers may be stuffed raw.

Mix drained tuna, and all other ingredients in a medium bowl. Add as much reserved oil as desired. Stuff tuna mixture into the peppers and serve.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Grapenut Chocolate Chunk Cranberry Biscotti

Yes Grapenuts!

Now that I got your attention, don't turn your nose up at the idea. It's a great way to eat your whole grains and satisfy your sweet tooth at the same time. It is a lighter recipe in terms of fat and lower sugar.

I love to recreate recipes by adding healthy ingredients and tweaking the not so good for you additions. The idea came to me because I had an open box of Grapenuts that I wasn't eating and I didn't not want to waste them.

I have a favorite recipe for Oatmeal Chocolate Chunk Biscotti, and somehow I thought to swap out the oatmeal for the grapenuts and alter a few more things. The result was supurb. These cookies are so unique, the grapenuts keep their texture and you can really taste that distinctive grapenut flavor.

Grapenut Chocolate Chunk Cranberry Biscotti
A healthy and delicious change of pace

3/4 cup butter or margarine (I used 1/4 cup butter and 1/2 cup Smart Balance Spread)
1/2 cup brown sugar, Packed
1/2 cup granulated sugar (I used turbanado sugar)
1 tablespoon vanilla
3 egg whites
1 cup all purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 1/2 cups grapenuts
1 cup chocolate chunks
3/4 cup walnuts, chopped and toasted
Dash of cinnamon, nutmeg and salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix together butter, sugars, vanilla and eggs. Fold mixture in with flour and baking powder. Mix in grapenuts, chocolate chunks and walnuts.

Spoon dough onto 2 parchment lined baking sheets to form logs the length of the cookie sheet and about 2-3 inches wide. Shape gently with floured hands until the log is smooth.

Bake for about 22-24 minutes, until light golden brown. Remove from the oven and cool for 10 minutes.

Slice logs diagonally and place on sides. Put biscotti back in oven and bake for another 5-10 minutes. Cool and store in an airtight container or wrap thoroughly and freeze for up to 4-5 months.